Staff

Alex Vasendin – Studio Owner

John Mandia: Dance Director – Instructor

John has been with Fred Astaire Dutchess since 2008.   His passion for teaching lies in those moments when a student’s face lights up and they feel what they are working on makes sense; the moment of understanding, in their body and minds.  “Change in those moments motivates me to be the best instructor I can be for the student that I have in front of me right now!” His favorite dance is the Viennese Waltz, because ” It’s fast, elegant, and allows my partner and I to feel the highest level of uninhabited connectivity.”

Max Arkhipenko: Dance Instructor

Max has been with Fred Astaire Dutchess since 2014.   He stepped into the world of dance 22 years ago.  Since then, he divides his interest between classical ballroom and Latin American dances.  He says his mind is with the Smooth and Standard, but his heart is with Rhythm and Latin.  “Teaching is comparable to the work of a sculpture and I love to create something side by side with my students.” His heart is forever with Samba, because “every cell of your body dances to its own beat in this dance” and with Paso Doble, because “the passion of the dance won’t allow me to remain indifferent.”

Elizabeth Bogdan – Dance Instructor

Zahara Diego-Moffitt: Dance Instructor

Zahara has been with Fred Astaire Dutchess since 2014.   She says her favorite thing about dancing is how free she feels.  She’s transported to another place and loves seeing her improvements.  Her favorite dance is the Rumba; she loves it because its super slow, she also loves it because of the passion and strength she feels whether she is watching it or dancing it.

Cassandra Mandia: Dance Instructor

Cassie has been with Fred Astaire Dutchess since 2013.  She loves teaching because it allows her to share her own passion of dancing with every person who walks into the studio.  “Having a positive impact on someone’s life through dancing is the most rewarding experience.” Her favorite dance is the Foxtrot; “It’s such an expressive dance. It can be elegant, playful, and it can be sexy.  Once I hear the music, it’s up to me as a dancer to be able to express the mood of the song all while engaging and reacting to my partners every move.”